Test to tell women how long her biological clock has left
Wednesday, 25th January 2006, 13:49
LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - A revolutionary test that can tell a woman how long her biological clock has left to tick was unveiled today.
The pioneeering device counts the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries and is designed to stop women leaving it too late to start a family.
Olympic Gold medal swimmer Sharron Davies was an early participant in trials of the home blood test kit, called 'Plan Ahead.'
The 43 year-old TV presenter said: "I had just got remarried and already had two children and did not think I would have any more. But my husband, Tony, is younger than me, has not got any children and we wanted one of our own.
"Although he is a very good stepdad to Elliott and Grace it would complete us if we could have children. Everything was fine but I did not know how many eggs I had left before I should start panicking. My ovarian reserve is very good though."
She added: "No one is saying this is a test that, just because you pass, you are super fertile. I wanted to find out how long I had left. I'm 43 and those eggs are not as good as they were ten years ago. There are lots of factors in getting pregnant but one of the biggest is, have you got any eggs there?"
"I work with so many women that have put their families off and I am telling people not to be so blasé about it. I think the message is go and find out before it's too late."
The manufacturers, Lifestyle Choices, say 'Plan Ahead' is not a fertility test but helps identify women at risk of an early menopause several years before it occurs.
The inventor Bill Ledger, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Sheffield, said: "I have seen a lot of women who have a problem getting pregnant because they have left it too late.
"They are generally in their 40s, have had a great career and a great life and they come for IVF thinking it will help them but the truth is it cannot because their ovaries have run out of good quality eggs and we cannot help them have children. That is a tragedy for the couple, it hurts and it's difficult to help them move forward.
"If a woman takes the test she can make an informed choice as to when she starts a family."
A woman must come off the pill one month before the test is taken. It requires 3 millilitres of blood to be taken from the arm, by either a GP or at a walk-in clinic, on the second or third day of a woman's period. It is sent to a laboratory in Oxford where the levels of three hormones - Inhibin B, AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormones) and FSH (Folical Stimulating Hormone) - are measured.
This forecasts the ovarian reserve for the following two years and it is plotted against the average for that woman's age, determining how long she can potentially delay for.
The test costs £179 and is only available through mail order but there are plans to roll it out to chemists and private clinics later this year. It is a world first but unlikely to be available on the NHS.
Ms Davies added: "£179 sounds like a lot of money but when you compare it to the big picture it's money well spent."
Prof Ledger added: "It's £3,000 for each IVF attempt so its needs to be put in that context."
A man's sperm levels and other factors such as the condition of the fallopian tubes also affect fertility.
Most women are born with approximately 2 million eggs in their ovaries. By the age of 20 only around 50,000 remain and by 40 this has dropped to under 10,000.
One in every 100 women will enter the menopause by the age of 40 but fertility begins to fall a decade before the menopause. In 2004 the average age of a woman giving birth to her first child was 27, an increase of 3.4 years from 1971.
Prof Ledger added: "Women now have children in their 30s rather than their 20s and that's the problem because biology has not changed. Women will have the menopause around the same age their great-great grandmother did."
Prof Ledger said the makers were not trying to panic women, and there was a helpline for people to talk to.
The kit is available on 0114 2755723
I have a much cheaper one: walk by a Baby Gap and count the "oh that's so cute!" comments.
"Has not got"???
And she's a TV host?
Just out of curiosity, what kind of insane maniac talks to any woman, no matter what age, about her biological clock? Anyone who does is out of their fucking mind!! That subject is right up there with engagement rings, wedding dresses and "Do I like fat in these pants/"
I love to remind my mid 20'ies female friends about it.